The world is now suffering a shortage of face masks as fear for coronavirus heightens. Online stores and local pharmacies no longer have the face masks needed to prevent the spread of the disease in stock. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported a worldwide “chronic shortage” of equipment required to protect people from catching the deadly disease.
WHO’s Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stated at a briefing in Geneva that “the world is facing a chronic shortage of personal protective equipment. We’re sending testing kits, masks, gloves, respirators and gowns to countries in every region.”
This acute shortage has prompted several companies, among them Foxconn, maker of the Apple iPhone, to begin production of face masks to fill the widening gulf. The company said it will be producing up to two million face masks per day before the end of February to meet global demands. Foxconn, however, said it has made the necessary applications for product certification.
Many giant e-commerce stores in China do not seem to have the masks in stock again and people queue for as long as three hours at local stores in Hong Kong to buy them. Meanwhile, the authorities are investigating the sales of “coronavirus face masks” by an online retailer on Amazon. The product was ranked as the number one bestseller on the health and personal care category, but the online retail giant removed the listing after it was flagged by Yahoo News UK.
Following the removal of the product on Amazon, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said they will investigate the product listing.
Another Coronavirus face mask listed for £210 on Amazon but the retailer took it probably based on a tip-off. Amazon is reportedly taking actions against the vendor of the bestselling facial mask and reported that “we have systems and processes to detect suspicious behavior and we have teams that investigate and take action quickly.”
Public Health England revealed that face masks might not offer any real protection if worn incorrectly or worn for a long time without replacement.
“People concerned about the transmission of infectious diseases should prioritize good personal, respiratory and hand hygiene,” Dr. Jake Dunning, head of emerging infections and zoonoses at Public Health England. “There is very little evidence of widespread benefit from their [face mask] use outside of these clinical settings.”
United States stores such as Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS Health among others said face masks and N95 respirators are no longer available with them and they are looking forward to supplying local and online stores as soon as more stocks come in.